This is dedicated to all those I love with far from perfect teeth.

You're given a set of teeth, permanent teeth that while you know you will not have all your life, you rest in the encouragement that you can if you try, if you work at it. You have somewhere between 28 and 32 to tend to, every day, until they fall out or get punched out and fake ones are then inserted. Or you just let them go. You need your teeth, and your teeth need you to care. They are your bone, jutting from soft and firm tissue, so that can tear into the meat that gives life.

They can grow in almost anyway, straight, crooked, upside down and inside out, sideways even. They can crowd, give you mind numbing headaches, become ensnared in a self proclaimed prison so that someday they will appear to have always been straight and in progression. You have sharp ones and rounded ones, big and little, all working together to feed you and against you in all ways to stay uniform.

Some things you eat and drink or otherwise take into your body can discolor or even eat away, should you let the residue sit and collect in all the hidden places you are taught to find with various implements. You are taught by people who know teeth, who spend years and years getting to know teeth in all the ways you can't, and if you're wise, you'll listen to them. But, since they know you will not always listen, they are also equipped to salvage your teeth when you care poorly for them. They can make your fillings enamel colored so that know one knows you didn't brush the tops of your teeth or floss far back enough. They will give you drugs to numb the pain when a few soldiers must be spent in battle. Soon enough, you'll forget you ever had them, because we do learn to forget pain, because we have to in order to move on.

You go through thousands of toothbrushes, miles of floss, but even with all those bristles and threads against a numbered set of obstacles, even if you do everything right, you can still neglect some little, almost microscopic section of the teeth or gums. Slowly, if left alone, it will erode, surface, maybe even wake you in the middle of the night in pain. To fix it, the people that know how may have to deaden a nerve, plunging deep needles to draw away the pain of your own cavern echoing out silent screams of fear.

Still we fight, fight every day against the inevitable. When you bite into a pear or a piece of cheese, you will know your own overbite, you will see the error or perfection of design.

And every person's smile is unique.

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